Kindness Amidst Chaos

Tebow

There were two news stories yesterday about air travel. One was about the terrorist attack at the airport in Istanbul, Turkey. The other was about a man who had a heart attack during a flight he was taking with his wife and her friend. Which one would you guess had the most emotional impact on me?

It was the one about the man who had the heart attack.

The reason is that the man’s fellow passengers on the plane tried to help him. In particular, the former football player, now sports broadcaster, Tim Tebow, left his seat in business class and came to the man’s aid. He led prayers for the man along with other passengers around him while the man’s wife and her friend cried on his shoulders, picked up the family’s luggage when the plane landed and went with them to the hospital, staying until the family was told that the man had passed away.

You might think that it’s insensitive to not have a more emotional reaction to the terrorist attack. In fact, I thought that to myself after reading both stories. I think the reason the Tebow story impacted me more is because the terrorist attacks have become routine and have numbed my senses. Also, because there are so few positive stories that make the news. Indeed, I wonder if this story would have made the news were it not for the fact that a celebrity was involved. I suspect that there are many such occurrences every day that go unreported because the people engaging in such acts of kindness are regular, ordinary people, doing the right thing in obscurity.

That’s a shame, because I think that reading about acts of kindness promotes that type of behavior, just as the terrorists think that media coverage of their doings recruits some people to that type of behavior.

I wish the media would run a story about an act of kindness every day, not just when it involves a famous person. Maybe doing that would balance out the negative stuff and encourage the type of behavior the world desperately needs right now.

My thoughts, prayers, and condolences to all affected by the attack in Turkey.

Pride

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A reader of my blog asked why I haven’t been posting lately. He said that he missed my posts and encouraged me to start posting again.

The reason I haven’t been posting is because I had decided to avoid posting about negative stuff, under the theory that there is enough negative stuff out there and who needs the clutter? The problem is that there isn’t enough positive stuff to keep a steady stream of posts going. A case in point is the horrible terrorist attack in Orlando today that killed 50 people, making it the worst mass shooting in our country’s history.

So, the reason I’m posting about this, even though it is obviously negative stuff, is because I think there may be a positive aspect to it. I’m going to share three thoughts about this incident, ending with the observation that may be seen as a silver lining amidst unfathomable tragedy.

My first observation is that my daughter is now 14 years old, and she has never experienced a day of her life when our country has not been at war with the forces of terrorism. Having no basis for comparison, she is mostly unaware of the daily indignities we’ve come to accept as “normal,” whether it’s the security checkpoints, the invasive governmental apparatus intended to keep us safe, or the sense that privacy has become a thing of the past. I don’t know whether this sorry state of affairs will ever reverse itself, but today’s events certainly portend a continuation of current trends in the foreseeable future.

Next, there has been interesting phraseology used by the media to “headline” the story, namely: The Worst Mass Shooting in American History. While that is a factual statement, to me, it misses the real story, which is that today we experienced the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 (in fairness, that was also mentioned by most media outlets). My suspicion is that this choice reflects a desire by some to have the narrative be about a shooting, along the lines of Sandy Hook or the Aurora theater massacre, and at the same time avoid a narrative that the war on terror is not going well. Sure enough, within three hours of the story breaking on CNN there were a couple of politicians who were interviewed and used the opportunity to talk about gun control. In my opinion, talking about gun control at that particular moment was unseemly, regardless of one’s views on the topic. To me, it smacked of political opportunism.

So, how can there possibly be a positive aspect to all this?

To the extent that vestiges of antagonism remain between the LGBT community in our country and some straight Americans, I believe this event erased that antagonism to a large degree, if not completely. The reason is that Americans view the victims of the attack as their fellow Americans, and the fact that they were enjoying themselves in a gay bar at the time of the attack shrinks to insignificance.

It’s Pride Month, so let’s take the opportunity to expand what Pride Month means, to include pride in the survivors who helped others in the direct aftermath, to the police community and first responders in Florida who saved a lot of lives today (thank goodness for a positive story about them; about time), and to Americans everywhere who looked at their fellow Americans suffering, and only saw that.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected. To those who didn’t survive, rest in peace.

 

 

Concert Review: Dead & Company with John Mayer, 12/28/15

 

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I went to see this concert with an old friend and fellow veteran of Grateful Dead shows. You know, the ones that occurred when Jerry Garcia was still alive. I had seen several of the post-Jerry lineups over the years and it always seemed more like a party featuring Grateful Dead music than an actual Grateful Dead show. So my expectations for this concert were tame, perhaps in part because it seemed a bit odd to pair John Mayer with the Grateful Dead.

These things can get very subjective, like when you think you’ve just seen an excellent Grateful Dead show and your friend standing right next to you the whole time deems it mediocre. But for me, personally, this was the best post-Jerry show I’ve seen.

John Mayer is a revelation. As a guy who’s best known for radio friendly pop rock, it was weird to see him immersed in Grateful Dead music. And when I say immersed I mean he hasn’t just drunk the Dead cool aid, he’s soaking in the damn vat. Welcome to the club, buddy. John Mayer is a total deadhead. Who knew? Visually, it was like the high school quarterback joined the hippies smoking in the parking lot. Here’s your hot new Grateful Dead guitar hero, but with better hair and pretty boy looks. The thing is, Mayer is so into it, he so “gets” the whole Grateful Dead thing, that it works. He injected a youthful energy that you could sense was picked up on by the rest of the band, especially Bob Weir.

As lead guitarist, Mayer had to perform the trick of filling in for Garcia when old school Grateful Dead fans might feel a bit protective of their Garcia memories and view any attempt to “out do” Garcia as sacrilege. How to give it your all in that role while respecting the original guy? The answer, for me, was the most surprising thing of all. It seemed, at times, like the band was tapping into the cosmic flow that you sometimes got at the best Grateful Dead shows. There were moments where the music seemed to take control away from the individual band members, like they’d all done the Vulcan mind meld and were playing as a single entity and channeling the music in from some transcendental parallel universe. Right out of the gate they played one of my favorite songs, The Music Never Stopped, and went into an extended deep space jam during the rhythm breakdown, then snapped back into the groove so quick you didn’t hear it coming.

Mayer also did a good job on vocals, especially sharing with Bob Weir on fan favorite Franklin’s Tower. John didn’t try to mimic Jerry on his vocal parts, and that is a good thing not only to avoid the sacrilege problem, but also because Mayer is a vocal stylist in his own right and actually added some nice fresh phrasing that honored the music while adding his own signature to it. Also, there was this interesting thing he started to do toward the end where he was scat singing a la Ella Fitzgerald. It complimented the music really well.

There was also quite a bit of humor in the second set on the outro to The Wheel, with Mayer leading the band into a gently mocking melodic parody of the song itself, until it morphed into something like the soundtrack to a gaggle of clowns hamming it up at a circus. And there was also quite a bit of what I call metamigorbickle improvisation, with the soundscapes becoming so abstract that they differentiate the Grateful Dead from all the other so-called jam bands; pure improvisation without any melodic or rhythmic underpinnings to fall back on.

The other guest musicians were bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti, who also recently performed with the Grateful Dead at their supposed farewell shows. I’d seen Chimenti a few times in other configurations and he was in fine form, but I’d never seen Burbridge. He’s an incredible bass player and filled the void left by original Dead bassist Phil Lesh very well.

The show was so good that it made me wonder what will happen when the rest of the original members retire or pass away. Will this thing actually keep going? With Mayer in the drivers seat I think it’s a real possibility. The question would be whether people would still see the shows, but one interesting thing to consider is that many of the people I spoke with at the show or overheard had never seen the Grateful Dead while Garcia was alive. Think about that a moment. The show was sold out and many of the fans had never even seen Garcia live. The music is still there, coursing through the ether, waiting for someone like Mayer to tap in.

 

 

 

 

Film Review: Star Wars, The Force Awakens

Kylo Ren

This is a spoiler-free review.

I asked my 14 year old daughter if she wanted to see the new Star Wars movie and she said that she didn’t because she hadn’t seen any of the previous ones in the series. I don’t know if that’s a sign of bad parenting on my part or a measure of the cultural schism created by age, but it shocked me to think she’s been blissfully unaware of something that was a part of my growing up. Anyway, I went to see the new film by myself. And she was right in the sense that you really need to have seen at least the first three films in the series to have a fair chance of fully enjoying this most recent entry. That’s in part because the film makers assumed that everyone who will see The Force Awakens is already aware of certain plot points, like Darth Vader’s familial relationship with the series’  original hero, Luke Skywalker. So, there’s quite a bit of exposition left out, or mentioned only in passing.

That having been said, The Force Awakens is sure to satisfy Star Wars fans, though I suspect that the extent to which they love this film will depend in part on their expectations going in. In my opinion it is the third best entry out of the lot, exceeded only by The Empire Strikes Back and the original Star Wars, which was subsequently titled A New Hope. My opinion may change after repeat viewings. One thing for sure is that it is orders of magnitude better than all the prequels, and that is due in large part to the casting. There are two new heroes, a disenchanted Stormtrooper named Finn, played by  John Boyega, and a scrappy scavenger named Rey, played by Daisy Ridley. There are also old friends brought back from the original series, with a stand out performance by Harrison Ford reprising the role of space scoundrel Han Solo. But the best thing about this film, in my opinion, is the performance by Adam Driver as the villain Kylo Ren. Ironically, his performance is the emotional heart of the film and packs the most punch. There is also a new droid character named BB-8 that is a fine addition to the series.

The plot echoes the original film, which seems like a conscious compromise intended to ground it in Star Wars lore so the stage is set for subsequent installments. It will be interesting to see whether the next film can break out and offer something fresh.

Viewers may be struck by the same feeling I had of consuming the film as comfort food, rather than a fine but perhaps more palette-challenging gourmet meal. There is a lot to like in the visuals, with fantastic vistas and complex battle scenes that seem more real than other installments due to less reliance of computer generated images. There’s also the pitch perfect score by John Williams, which complements the action and keeps things moving along. It also struck me that this film gives itself permission to have fun and pierce the seriousness that over-saturated the prequels.

Another thought I had watching the film is the seeming difficulty the film has creating a sense of dread and menace when it comes to the bad guys, who in this installment are called The First Order. They are presented in a Nazi motif reminiscent of a Nuremberg rally, but in the context of recent events they seem quaint by comparison. Not to say that the Nazis weren’t menacing, but there is a certain lack of explanation as to what is driving their actions, other than a will to power. The film plays more on the eternal balance between good and evil and those forces being functions of each other; one not being able to exist without the other. My guess is that the next film will explore that theme more deeply, but what do I know.

If you like action adventures this should be on your list for holiday viewing. Have fun and may the force be with you.

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip, Part 4

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I’m getting close to a wrap on this series of posts about my trip to Canada last summer. This photo is of a monumental cowboy sculpture at the Calgary Stampede, which is probably the best known rodeo, or what is otherwise billed by the promoters as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.” It’s sort of a combination of a rodeo show, a massive county fair and a Canada-centric display of regional pride.

The rodeo itself is a daily competition with the usual events, such as roping and riding, but with one addition that sets it apart from many other such events. The Calgary Stampede includes wagon races, which harken back to the wild west. The wagon races begin with the team, which includes two on the wagon and outriders on horseback, putting away a kettle in the back of the wagon to represent cowboys breaking camp. The wagons then weave around barrels before racing around the perimeter of the rodeo grounds. It’s a charming evocation of rural western culture.

For most people the highlight is the bull riding, which is brutal, impressive and dangerous. I’m quite sure that we saw one young rider suffer a serious shoulder separation getting thrown from a bull. An interesting cultural twist is that some of the best bull riders are from South America, which has a cowboy culture all it’s own.

In the evening there is a stage show with music, dancing and singing. I don’t know if the theme changes each year, but the show we saw was focused entirely on all things Canadian. I actually learned some things about Canada that I didn’t know. For example, which of the four major professional sports was invented by a Canadian? Nope, not hockey. It’s basketball. Ironically, there is only one NBA team in Canada, which is the Toronto Raptors. On the other hand, Canadians represent the second most non-American NBA players in the league. A highlight of the show was the inclusion of aboriginal tribal leaders dressed in traditional costumes. So, cowboys and “indians” all around.

Aside from the rodeo itself, the grounds include lots of other activities you might find at a county fair, and a lot of barbecue. There are several stages with musical acts to keep things lively. It’s definitely worth seeing if you plan on visiting Alberta. A lot of good, clean fun, and a noticeable lack of over-celebration when it comes to alcohol. Oh, and while you’re in Alberta, be sure to go to one of the steak houses. The Alberta beef is fantastic, if you enjoy a good steak.

 

 

Until the End of the World

Bono Paris

This is a photograph of Bono, the lead singer of the Irish rock band U2, performing in Paris on December 7, 2015. U2 was originally scheduled to perform in Paris in November, with the concert to be broadcast on HBO, but the band had to postpone due to the terrorist attacks in Paris, which included an attack on a rock concert featuring the California band The Eagles of Death Metal.

The rescheduled concert was broadcast on HBO the evening of December 7th and I watched it and recorded it for repeat viewing. Of course, the terrorist attacks upped the ante for the rescheduled show and created, at least for me, an expectation that it would be in some way more meaningful, especially given the band’s tendency to wade into political matters. So I was anticipating a great performance, but was also a bit cynical about the prospect of these wealthy rock stars getting paid a ton of money to play a show and thinking they could somehow convey something more than the pleasant buzz one might associate with popular musical performances.

The show started out quite serious, with a mix of new and old material and plenty of seemingly heartfelt pronouncements, such as we are all Parisians tonight. A standout was the U2 standard Sunday Bloody Sunday, which evokes the period of Irish troubles deriving from religious and political conflict between north and south. The band had the good sense to have the members line up at the front of the stage, with the drummer playing a shoulder-hung drum like in a marching band. The visual was like something out of Les Miserable; the revolutionaries pushed up against the barricades.

Then things became even more serious, with Bono explaining the genesis of the material on the band’s new album and drawing a loose connection between experiences the members had growing up during the troubles and current events. This part of the show ended with Bono imploring a higher power to bring comfort. At this point I was thinking that the show was doomed to linger in a tone of sadness and maudlin pomposity. But then a curious thing happened. A full on rock concert broke through the gloom.

The band’s guitarist, known as The Edge, launched into one of my favorite U2 songs, Until the End of the World. The opening lyrics are as follows:

Haven’t seen you in quite a while
I was down the hold just passing time
Last time we met was a low-lit room
We were as close together as a bride and groom
We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world

The implicit message was that despite all that had happened, it wasn’t (isn’t) the end of the world. During the guitar break, The Edge was performing behind a scrim, onto which Bono was projected larger than life, drinking water from a bottle and seeming to spray it out of his mouth onto The Edge. He says, “I’m sorry, Edge.” Then he says, “No, I’m not sorry.” A moment of humor that pierced the sanctimony. The song continued, until the final verse, which goes:

In my dream I was drowning my sorrows
But my sorrows, they learned to swim
Surrounding me, going down on me
Spilling over the brim
Waves of regret and waves of joy
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy
You…you said you’d wait
’til the end of the world

That line: I reached out for the one I tried to destroy. It was a transcendent moment; at once a battle call and a moment of tenderness.

I’ve been thinking for a couple days now whether this concert was important. It occurs to me that the terrorists thought it was important to kill a lot of people at another concert, and not because they were pissed off that the band made money off it. Maybe that’s because they realize that music does have meaning beyond the business side of things. On that note, U2 struck a blow for the good.

Road Trip, Part 3

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This is a cliff in southern Alberta, Canada that is called the Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump. It is a bit off the main highway and I never would have thought of going there but for the nice lady at the visitors center in Cardston, Alberta. We had stopped there to ask about roadside attractions and a fellow traveler and her husband recommended it. By the way, Cardston has it’s own attraction near the visitors center called the Remington Carriage Museum that houses a fine collection of meticulously restored horse drawn conveyances of every size and description. It’s worth a stop if you’re driving through. But the buffalo jump is on a whole other level, seeing as how it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The native people (or what the Canadians refer to as aboriginals) who inhabited the area before the arrival of Europeans used the cliff to harvest buffalo as an alternative to hunting them. There is a great museum built into the side of the cliff and your visit starts with a short film that explains how they did it. It turns out that buffalo have poor eyesight, which, combined with their tendency to protect the youngest of the herd and to stampede when faced with a perceived threat, allowed the aboriginals to trick the herd into running over the cliff.

The methods used by the aboriginals were precise and involved a fair amount of danger to the participants due to the necessary proximity to the stampeding herd. The preparation started with the construction of lanes made of rocks and plants to form a visual barrier that would guide the herd toward the cliff when the stampede began. The tribe would stand outside of the lanes to reinforce the barrier by making noise. Two braves would dress in animal skins; one disguised as a calf and one as a wolf. The “calf” would stray from the herd in the direction of the cliff while the “wolf” would approach from the other direction. The herd would move toward the calf as a protective measure and stampede when frightened by the wolf approaching from behind. This worked because buffalo have poor eyesight, but also because the braves disguised their scent.

Once the stampede began the brave dressed as a calf would jump outside the lane to safety, but as you can imagine the timing wasn’t always perfect and a brave would get trampled to death on occasion. But that’s not how the place got its name. The name comes from a story of a particular brave who waited at the base of the cliff during one of the harvests, thinking that he could view the event in safety behind the waterfall of buffalo. But as the animals piled up at the bottom he was crushed and later found with his head smashed in.

The museum is dedicated to the pre-European culture of the aboriginals who inhabited the region, which existed for thousands of years. It is the one museum I’ve attended with my child that held her attention longer than it held mine. Learning occurred. For me, the most profound insight is that the aboriginal culture was based entirely on the buffalo. Almost everything used by the people was made out of buffalo, including clothing, housing, weapons, ornaments, you name it. Of course, the buffalo also provided the primary source of food. Once the herds of buffalo disappeared after the arrival of the Europeans, the culture of the aboriginals was destroyed. The saddest part of the story is that most of the buffalo killed by Europeans were killed for sport and hides. Most of the buffalo was wasted, in direct contradiction to the aboriginal way.

I recommend visiting Head Smashed-In if you happen to be in Alberta. It’s well worth leaving the main highway.

Speaking of stampedes, our next stop is the greatest rodeo on earth, the Calgary Stampede.

 

Bullet the Blue Sky

Eiffel Tower Dark

The Irish Rock Band U2 was supposed to play in Paris tonight, with the show to be broadcast on HBO. Instead, the show was postponed by the band “until an appropriate time” due to the terrorist attacks that hit Paris on Friday night. I wonder if the terrorists were thinking about the fact that it was the 13th.

I was reminded of the time that my wife Lisa and I saw U2 in Paris at the Parc de Princes. We were on our honeymoon and it just so happened that U2 was playing in Paris during that part of our European itinerary. We bought tickets from a scalper outside the stadium. That particular show was played on the same date of Princess Diana’s funeral; she had died in the car accident in Paris when Lisa and I were in Nice. It was a memorable show, but two memories in particular stand out: U2 playing the song “One” in honor of Diana, with a royal portrait of her projected on the screen behind the stage; and, U2 playing “Bullet the Blue Sky.”

I thought about Bullet the Blue Sky when I heard that U2 had postponed their Paris concert because of the terrorist attacks. The song is a critique of violence and conflict and when performed live it can come across as political theater. When I saw U2 play it in Paris, they extended the out-tro for several minutes while the lead singer, Bono, performed an exquisite pantomime of a man walking a highwire while holding an umbrella over his head as if for balance. The umbrella he was holding had a colorful red, white, and blue American flag motif. Bono’s theatrical interlude came across clearly to me as a metaphor of Europe as the daredevil, protected by the security umbrella provided by the United States. I could hear many of the audience members around me muttering in French, “c’est vrai, c’est vrai.” (it’s true, it’s true).

A lot has happened since then and I’m not writing this to grind any particular political axe. One could say that we are less secure due to American adventurism in foreign affairs, or because we’ve chosen to “lead from behind.” I think most would agree, though, that for whatever reason, the security umbrella is looking a bit frayed these days. U2 reacted to the terrorist attacks on Paris with “shock and horror.” Yeah, me too. For people who’ve visited Paris, it’s hard to imagine something like this happening. Hard, and sad in a way that rips at your heart. Paris evokes an ethereal innocence. To see that shattered is heartbreaking.

Maybe it was inevitable that the security umbrella wouldn’t last forever. But it will certainly be replaced by something better, or worse. I get the feeling we’re going to find out real soon.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the French and all the others affected by this terrible situation.

The Road Trip, 2

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I took this photo in Glacier National Park, Montana. This is Lake Josephine, in the area of the park called Many Glacier. We were in the park July 9 & 10. The timing was fortuitous because a fire required closure of some areas shortly after we left, including part of Going to the Sun Road. As is so often the case, this photo doesn’t really capture the beauty. My daughter and I agreed that Glacier National Park was a highlight of the trip.

We didn’t have reservations for lodging in the park itself, so instead we stayed nearby in an old school hotel called the Glacier Park Lodge, which opened in 1913. The lodge was constructed by the Great Northern Railroad as part of an effort to bring tourists to the park by train. The rail line still runs right by the hotel. Here’s a photo I took of the lobby.

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Those giant columns that look like tree trunks…are tree trunks. Most of the structural supports are timbers of varying sizes. When we checked into the hotel there were a few details that went unmentioned. For example, there are no televisions in the rooms. Also, no phones. There is wi-fi, but the signal is weak, so if you want to use it you need to go to the public areas. This lack of technology creates a time warp effect and the guests resort to Victorian entertainments like board games, cards, and jigsaw puzzles that are scattered throughout the public areas. Also, many of the guests sit in the public areas and read, or admire the view from the back veranda. For the typical guest who has never been deprived of tech it is jarring at first, but I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to this slower paced environment. It was relaxing and eventually quite charming.

Oh, did I mention that it was Native American week? There was a large pow-wow scheduled in a nearby town, and since the park and the hotel are located on the Blackfoot reservation, no alcohol was served at the hotels and restaurants. So, if you were thinking, well, there’s no TV or internet so I’ll just belly up to the bar and soothe my  tech withdrawal, think again. The old-timey environment and lack of booze combined to make it seem like you might be staying at the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. You’ll recall that Jack Nicholson’s character fell off the wagon chatting it up with the ghost bartender in the hotel lounge. We only stayed at the lodge one night. Then it was on to Canada.

By the way, my apologies for the long absence of posts. I had some things going on that required my full attention for awhile.

Concert Review: Aerosmith

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The first time I saw Aerosmith in concert was on July 23, 1978 at the Oakland Coliseum. They headlined a summer music festival known as Day on the Green, put on by legendary entertainment promoter Bill Graham. The other acts on the bill were, in descending order, Foreigner, Pat Travers, Van Halen, and AC/DC. That’s right: AC/DC opened the show. That’s because they were fairly unknown in the United States at that time. Don’t believe me? Here’s the poster.

Day on the Green 1978

I can still remember Angus Young running onto the stage in a bumble bee schoolboy uniform. As AC/DC rolled through their set the crowd had a collective, dawning realization that we were seeing something great for the first time. That set the stage for the next act, Van Halen. My best friend had just bought the first Van Halen album a few weeks before the concert, but most of the crowd was uninitiated. They came out and played Running With the Devil, then Eddie Van Halen launched into Eruption. It was like a nuclear bomb went off.

I mention this because Aerosmith was a complete disappointment that day. During that period the band was deep into hard drugs and their performance really suffered from it. When juxtaposed against seeing AC/DC and Van Halen for the first time, it made Aerosmith seem like a washed up mess.

Despite that disappointing first experience, I saw Aerosmith seven or eight times over the years, with mixed results. So it was with a bit of skepticism that I decided to start the road trip with an Aerosmith concert at Harvey’s amphitheater on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, July 3, 2015. There was a completely forgettable opening act. No, seriously. I can’t even remember their name, and it’s not even worth looking up.

So the opening band sucked. The good news is that thirty-seven years after seeing Aerosmith for the first time, I finally saw the show of my dreams. It’s not unusual for a band to keep it’s form as the members age. The Eagles come to mind in that regard. This was something different. Aerosmith was better than ever. And not just a little bit better. They completely blew the doors off every other Aerosmith show I’d seen, in person or otherwise.

The first surprise came with the opening song, Let the Music Do the Talking. If someone had asked me to bet a million dollars that they wouldn’t play that song, much less open with it, I would have taken the bet. It’s from the Night in the Ruts album, released in 1979 when the band was at a low point. I remember reading an article at that time and the band’s singer, Steve Tyler, was quoted as saying that even if the album didn’t sell it would someday be considered a classic. You have to give him credit for sticking to his guns.

There were many highlights, but for me the best part was when they played Last Child, the second cut from the Rocks album. That song encapsulates everything I love about Aerosmith: the heavy blues funk, bordering on metal; the clever, southern-fried lyrics; Tyler’s soulful, high pitched vocals; the dual guitar attack of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford on the solo break; the thundering bass and percussion of Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer; all of it synthesized into a potent, intoxicating brew that makes you want to throw your fist in the air and bob your head.

Perhaps the most impressive thing, overall, was that Steven Tyler hit every single note, not just with clarity and assurance, but with a playful, over-the-top expressiveness that you only get from the truly great vocalists. And not just on Last Child, but on every number, especially the explosive segue out of the rhythm breakdown on Draw the Line. At the end of the show, Tyler did a victory lap around the stage, then looked out at the audience and said, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” The man wasn’t lying.

So maybe you’re like me and are skeptical of seeing this band live, thinking that maybe their best days are behind them. I can tell you that the opposite may be true. If the show I saw is any indication, this is the best they’ve ever been and may ever get. See them if you have the chance. You won’t be disappointed.

Set List:

Let the Music Do the Talking
Love in an Elevator
Cryin’
Jaded
Last Child
Livin’ on the Edge
Toys in the Attic
Drum Solo
Rag Doll
Stop Messin’ Around
(Fleetwood Mac cover)
Mama Kin
I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing
Draw the Line
No More No More
Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
Walk This Way
Encore:
Dream On
(snippet of “Home Tonight” as intro)
Sweet Emotion